Lions Predicted to Part Ways With Veteran CB This Summer

Khalil Dorsey

Getty Khalil Dorsey warms up before a Detroit Lions game.

The Detroit Lions put significant efforts into shoring up their secondary, adding veteran defensive backs through trade and free agency and using their top two draft picks on cornerbacks.

The infusion of talent could lead to a fierce competition this summer, with one analyst predicting that veteran Khalil Dorsey could land on the outside of the roster bubble. In an early prediction of the final 53-man roster, Jeff Risdon of USA Today’s Lions Wire predicted that the cornerback and kick returner will lose his spot.


Cornerback Depth Chart Starting to Take Shape

Risdon predicted there would be little drama with the top of the cornerback depth chart, with first-round draft pick Terrion Arnold expected to earn a starting job alongside new addition Carlton Davis. Risdon noted that Brian Branch will return as the starting slot corner, with second-round rookie Ennis Rakestraw and Amik Robertson serving as reserves.

“If everyone is healthy, the top five spots seem pretty certain in that exact order, with Rakestraw the primary reserve slot,” Risdon wrote. “Branch can play any spot in the secondary with the possible exception of outside CB and the versatility makes him extra valuable.”

Risdon predicted that Kindle Vildor would snag the last roster spot, pushing Dorsey off the roster despite his versatility on special teams.

“As the sixth CB, Vildor is more than capable. He’ll have to fight off Steven Gilmore, Craig James and Khalil Dorsey, the latter of which offers a lot of special teams potential,” Risdon wrote.

Dorsey appeared in 13 games last season, making 11 total tackles with one pass defended. He also returned 12 kicks for a total of 244 yards, a 20.3 yard-per-return average.

The competition at cornerback could get tighter when veteran Emmanuel Moseley has fully recovered from a torn ACL that he suffered last season, but Risdon predicted that he would start the season on the reserve list. Moseley was one of the team’s major free-agency additions in the 2023 offseason but appeared in just one game before going down with a season-ending injury.

The team brought Moseley back on a new contract after the season.


More Competition for Return Specialist Job

Dorsey could also face new competition for his position as return specialist with the addition of rookie running back Sione Vaki. Risdon predicted that Vaki would earn the role of kick returner next season, and the rookie has already made a strong impression through the team’s rookie minicamp.

Jeremy Reisman of SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit reported that he “came away impressed with [Vaki’s] decisiveness and downhill running style” after rookie minicamp, hinting that Vaki appeared to have an inside track to the role of return specialist.

“The Lions spent a portion of practice on the new kickoff. Media rules prevent me from detailing where specific players were playing, but I’ll just let you know that Vaki’s special teams potential certainly shined during this portion of practice,” Reisman wrote.

There will likely be greater importance on the position of return specialist this season as new league rules encourage more returns.

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